Puerto Rico grid ‘teetering’ despite $3.8 billion repair

By

World News

May 30, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Electrical poles torn down along roads in Playa Punta Santiago in Humacao, Puerto Rico, that were destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Dec. 3, 2017. Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS

CAIN ALTO, Puerto Rico (AP) — After months of darkness and stifling heat, Noe Pagan was overjoyed when power-line workers arrived to restore electricity to his home deep in the lush green mountains of western Puerto Rico. But to his dismay, instead of raising a power pole toppled by Hurricane Maria, the federal contractors bolted the new 220-volt line to the narrow trunk of a breadfruit tree — a safety code violation virtually guaranteed to leave Pagan and his neighbors blacked out in a future hurricane.

“I asked the contractors if they were going to connect the cable to the post and they just didn’t answer,” said Pagan, a 23-year-old garage worker.

After an eight-month, $3.8 billion federal effort to try to end the longest blackout in United States history, officials say Puerto Rico’s public electrical authority, the nation’s largest, is almost certain to collapse again when the next hurricane hits this island of 3.3 million people.

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